Moser: Andre Dawson and the overlooked collusion cases of the 1980s

From SABR member Zack Moser at Baseball Prospectus on September 21, 2015:

The collective sigh of relief when Kris Bryant debuted on April 17th not only signaled the end of Cubs fans’ anxiety, clamoring for their superstar in making—it also signaled an end to the annoyance and frustration of those tired of reading about Bryant’s service time clock, the issue that dominated baseball’s late-winter news cycle. After a torrid spring, Bryant got the call and promptly struck out four times in his debut, before proceeding to put up MVP-caliber numbers in the Cubs’ playoff-bound season.

The sheer volume of columns reporting on Bryant’s service time, replete with quotes from Scott Boras, Tony Clark, and Theo Epstein, along with analysis of MLB’s service time rules, was overwhelming. Awareness about baseball’s labor rules has grown in recent years, with the issues of service time, an international draft, draft slots, and minor-league wages garnering attention from national and local media outlets of all types. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire in December of 2016, and negotiations will headline the sport’s news cycle two offseasons from now. Coverage of the negotiations between the MLB Players’ Union and the owners should be better than at any time in the sport’s history: the marriage of good labor reporting and baseball writing is maturing, and it’s no longer taboo to discuss the cognitive dissonance inherent in a sport where we essentially root for ballclub-as-management. If there’s any doubt that this is true, read Michael Baumann’s masterful treatment of the Bryant case, or his attempt at coming to terms with the truly bizarre Matt Harvey innings limit debate.

Three decades ago, robust writing on baseball’s labor environment was the domain of few journalists, ensconced in the nation’s major newspapers. In the mid-1980s, the Cubs found themselves front and center in one of the most important periods in baseball’s labor history, a period that Marvin Miller believed had greater consequences than the Black Sox scandal.

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Originally published: September 22, 2015. Last Updated: September 22, 2015.